Legendary boxer Brian Mitchell opens up about his final match with Jacob Morake

The #WeekendBreakfast show was blessed to have a champ in studio. Aubrey couldn’t contain his excitement as he spoke to former professional boxer Brian Mitchell.

Brian Mitchell can be described as one of the best boxers in South African history. The boxing legend turned pro in 1981 and captured the WBA and Lineal Junior Lightweight Title in 1986.

He defended the title 12 times, and never lost a title fight. In 1991 he captured the IBF Junior Lightweight Title with a decision win over boxer Tony Lopez. He retired after the fight, and came back briefly in 1994 for two local bouts, retiring completely in 1995 with a professional record.

Due to South Africa's apartheid policy, the WBA ruled that Mitchell's title defences were not to be held in South Africa. Mitchell then became a true 'road warrior', defending his title 12 times abroad.

I was born in Hillbrow funny enough.

Brian Mitchell, championship professional boxer

Mitchell was a busy fighter who relentlessly came forward, throwing a high number of punches to his opponent's head and body. Mitchell always entered his fights in peak physical condition, and it was usually this dedication that earned him his victories.

In March 1983, Mitchell won an eight-round decision from Jerome Gumede, earning him a South African junior-lightweight title shot at Chris Whiteboy. He made the most of his opportunity, knocking Whiteboy out in the ninth round to claim the title.

Mitchell then met Jacob Morake, the only boxer to have beaten him in his young career. Morake faced Mitchell for the third time in March 1984, and the champion again defended his South African title over 12 rounds.

In November 1985, he faced Jacob Morake for the fourth time. I knocked him out in the last round to defend my South African title says Mitchell.

Unfortunately, he never made it through the night, it was a terrible time in my career.

Brian Mitchell, championship professional boxer

It proved to be a tragic fight. Mitchell won on a twelfth-round KO, but Morake had absorbed a terrible amount of punishment and later died of head injuries.

Jacob Morake is a guy that is such a huge part of the Brian Mitchell story.

Brian Mitchell, championship professional boxer

He was my friend says Mitchell. He adds that Morake was the only guy that beat him, and the only person who died by his hands.

I couldn’t accept that a guy died in the ring by my hands.

Brian Mitchell, championship professional boxer

The South African boxer was stripped of his WBA crown for facing Lopez for the IBF title, and suddenly he found himself without a world title for the first time since 1986. However, he again faced Lopez in Sacramento in September, and on that occasion made sure of victory with a convincing point win, claiming the IBF title in the process.

Mitchell retired from boxing after that fight, but came out of retirement for two more victories in 1994 and 1995 before permanently retiring from the ring.

Mitchell says that retired pro boxer Mike Tyson turned his life around. He adds that Tyson’s acting career has done well, and he was inspired to pursue performing on stage. Mitchell says that he connected with the relevant people, and ultimately found himself on stage at Emperors Palace.

I thought that I would like to do a play on my life story.

Brian Mitchell, championship professional boxer

He finished his career with 45 wins, a solitary loss and three draws. His 12 successful defences of the junior lightweight title remain the record in that division to this day.

Many South Africans would consider him the country's greatest ever pugilist. Mitchell is a legend in boxing, and an inspiration to many. Today, he is one of South Africa's foremost boxing trainers.

Mitchell was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2009.

Click on the audio to know more about the champ, Brian Mitchell


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